Copper Leaching Method in Copper Beneficiation

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Copper Leaching Method in Copper Beneficiation

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Copper Leaching Method in Copper Beneficiation

Copper Leaching Method in Copper Beneficiation


Copper Leaching Method in Copper Beneficiation

Copper is increasingly recovered by solution, or hydrometallurgical, methods. These include dump, heap, and vat leaching techniques, as well as underground (or in situ) leaching methods. Each of these methods results in a pregnant leach solution (PLS). Copper is recovered from the PLS through precipitation or by solvent extraction/electrowinning (SX/EW) 。 Characteristics of typical leaching operations are presented. Recent developments in SX/EW technology have made solution mining a major factor in copper production. Currently, solution copper mining techniques account for approximately 30 percent of domestic copper production. Two-thirds of all United States copper mines employ various types of solution operations. Solution mining generally has lower day-to-day operating costs than other mining methods .

Most ores occur as mineral compounds that are insoluble in water; leaching involves chemical reactions that convert copper into a water-soluble form followed by dissolution. The leaching reagent used by each operation is dependent on the mineralogical composition of the ore material. Several types of reagents are used to produce these chemical reactions, including acids and bacterium . Acid leaching of ores and concentrates is the most common method of hydrometallurgical extraction. Its use is confined to acid-soluble, oxide-type ores that are not associated with acid-consuming rock types containing high concentrations of calcite (such as limestone and dolomite). Some ores require a form of concentration and/or pretreatment, such as roasting or calcification, before leaching. Typical acidic leaching agents include hydrochloric acid (HCL), sulfuric acid (H SO ), and iron sulfate (Fe (SO )). Sulfuric and hydrochloric acid 2 4 2 4 leaching at atmospheric pressure is the most common type of copper leaching. Copper minerals such as azurite, malachite, tenorite, and chrysocolla, are completely soluble in sulfuric acid at room temperature. Other, less oxidized, cuprite and sulfide ores, such as chalcocite, bornite, covelite, and chalcopyrite, require the addition of ferric sulfate and oxygen (as oxidants) to accomplish leaching. Leaching ores containing bornite and chalcopyrite with ferric sulfate is very slow, even at elevated temperatures .

For certain minerals, alkaline (or basic) leaching is an effective means of extracting copper. Alkaline leaching is more selective than acid leaching and particularly appropriate for ores with large amounts of acid- consuming carbonate rocks. This selectivity often results in lower recovery if the metals are not fully liberated in the comminution stage. Silica- and silicate-rich ores can be treated using alkaline leaching agents at raised temperatures. The principal reagents used in alkaline leaching are the hydroxides and carbonates of sodium and ammonia, but potassium hydroxide, calcium hydroxide, and sodium sulfide also are used. When leaching with ammonia (NH ), ammonium carbonate [NH /(NH ) CO ] or ammonium sulfate systems are often used. Those metals, which can form amines of copper, cobalt, and nickel, can be dissolved in ammoniacal ammonium carbonate or ammoniacal ammonium sulfate solutions at atmospheric pressure. Native copper can be leached in hydrochloric acid or by ammonia/ammoniacal ammonium sulfate agents .

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